Who is the governing body governing?
When he took office as FIA President at the beginning of last year, one of the pledges that Mohammed Ben Sulayem made was to get the FIA’s financial affairs in order, something many who elected him thought was long overdue. This is inevitably leading to budget cuts in all departments. At the same time, John Naylor, as President of the Historic Motor Sport Commission, has been arguing for an increase in the budget for historic motor sport. This is to reflect the growing numbers of events and participants in historics, one of the most rapidly-expanding disciplines governed by the FIA. We will have to wait and see whether Naylor gets the desired response.
What is more worrying is the suggestion – rumour, call it what you will – that has been circulating since last year, that the Historic Commission, which comes from the side of the FIA that deals with mobility and road safety issues and is heavily involved with FIVA, could be merged with the Historic Motor Sport Commission as part of a drive to reduce the number of Commissions within the FIA generally.
The Historic Motor Sport Commission, unlike the more specific FIA Single-Seater, Endurance, GT, or Rally Commissions, to use some examples, already has a huge remit, as it must concern itself with all of these disciplines when historic cars are involved, and it must do so on what is already a minuscule budget. Despite all the speeches and encouraging words emanating from Geneva, competitors often get the impression that the FIA does not respect or value historic motor sport in the same way it respects and values more modern forms of the sport. Even Commission members themselves sometime have this impression. Merging its only Commission with the body that oversees all classic cars, steam engines, military and commercial vehicles might be expedient, but it will render both Commissions less able to serve the interests of their respective constituents and will, I believe, estrange even further the very people who practice the sport. The FIA lost its Historic Touring Car Championship some years ago and has much more recently lost its Historic Formula 1, Formula Junior and Sports Car Championships.
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